Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Just For The Record.......

Winter vacation is officially over, for me,  tomorrow.

I know........pitchers and catchers don't report until later in the month.  But I still have to be available to Hal and Brian.  It is part of my contract; " Be independent, but get here when that clarion sounds."

You think I don't need a physical?  The MLB players union requires it.  Black Swan treatment comes right after the 15 day rule, which does something or other.  We lose Rule 5 players due to it.  I'm glad we have el Duque to keep the regulations sassy.

I do not arrive back in town to annoy you or do harm to your loved ones.   I simply report the truth, near truth,  and rumors.  I also make predictions, usually based upon inside information.  But sometimes, I just predict stuff because I feel it in my gut.  And I am never wrong.  Ask Mustang.

I am hoping for a clean year.  There, I've said it.  I am a "homer."  Happy now?

Initially, I have to report to the lily pond just south of the Steinbrenner Field ticket window, in Tampa. For those of you who know the place, it is about a league and a half from the " will call," window.

Injuries, we are told, are part of the game.  And someone has to keep tabs.  That is why I first became an actuarial swan. I was really good with numbers and tables and charts.  But drinking and, if I am truthful, some mis-behaving kept me from the top jobs.  So, I had to wear the black.

If this were Paris in 1789, I would be the guy that let's the blade fall.

But it is great to be back.  I hated Venezuela.  Winter just about turns my feathers white by the time February 1 rolls around.  So I can breathe freely again.  Paddling in circles keeps me young.

I will use the next few weeks to clear up the required MLB paperwork, get a new photo taken, and get into peak physical condition.

I hope you are all ready.

Pitchers & Catchers.  Life rewinds.

Twilight of the Gods

Current ages of the 1979 Yankee boys of summer

Mick the Quick 69
Chris 69
Thurman - sigh.
Bucky 66
Willie 63
Lou 75
Reggie 73
Spencer 71
Heathcliff 70
Roy 74
Bobby - sigh.
TJ 74
Gator 67
Luis 78
Figgy 69
Beattie 63
Catfish - sigh.
Goose 66
Kitty Kaat 79

Oscar - sigh...

Have a drink on us, boys.

68 seems awfully young these days. RIP, man.

Missing out on Shoehi Ohtani could be the best thing that happens to the Yankees in 2018

In 2018, the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim may rewrite the future of baseball. Their planned six-man rotation may break the mold for pitching staffs everywhere and rejigger the foundations of the game. Historians may someday look back on 2018 as the year when baseball finally stepped up and saved future generations of starting pitchers by scrapping the cruel, outmoded, elbow-tearing, shoulder-blowing, gonad-tweaking, gassy, pockmarked, spirit-befouling five-man rotation.

Or not.

The fact is, the Angels will try the six-man not out of long-term philosophy but because Shoehi Ohtani - the Japanese Babe Ruth - wants to hit and pitch, and nobody thinks he'll hold up by throwing every fifth day (especially since Japanese pitchers usually go once a week.) Ohtani - baseball's best prospect, say the rankers and listers - is reshaping the Angels' infrastructure in ways no rookie heretofore has done. Yesterday, their former ace, Garrett Richards, told a radio barker that he supports the six-man plan, even though it will affect his routines. 

In other words, it will all work out... hopefully.

And maybe it will. As everyone knows, nothing succeeds like success! Iif Ohtani proves to be the hitter and pitcher that he's reputed to be, all cogs will turn greasily in the Angels' machinery, and everyone will take home a door prize. But the more the Angels balance their future on a two-way rookie, the more Yankee fans should be relieved that Ohtani chose to play closer to home.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: I'm still crabbing over the fact that Ohtani snubbed the Yankees. There's a kernel of truth to that. I spent most of 2017 dreaming of the new Babe Ruth in our lineup. But we can't blame Ohtani for his choice, and he did an honorable thing by announcing his desires early. It didn't enhance his bargaining position to rule out the Yankees, Cubs, Mets and Redsocks. We can't gripe. And one last thing: Consider the ramifications if Ohtani had chosen the Yankees.

1. Giancarlo Stanton would probably be an Angel, Dodger, Met or - gulp - maybe a Redsock. He was definitely leaving Miami.

2. We'd still have too many outfielders and, in fact, less flexibility, because Ohtani would be our full time DH. Clint Frazier would still be the odd-man out.

3. We'd now be the experimental forerunners of the six-man plan (which we might do anyway) but with less options.

4. We'd be far less likely to go with three rookies - Glyber Torres and Miguel Andujar being the others - in the lineup. Without Giancarlo's $25 million salary, we would almost assuredly sign a 3B - the Toddfather? - or a starter. 

It's no foregone conclusion that Ohtani will hit and pitch well in the majors. But in mellow LA, who gives a crap? Last year, the Angels went 81-81. The city's newspaper is facing a civil war. If we had signed Ohtani, we'd be balancing a pennant race on a rookie's unprecedented workload. Maybe he'll do what no player since Babe Ruth - or Deion Sanders - has done. But I wonder how far Ohtani can go. As the 2018 Yankees take shape, with possibly two rookies in our infield, we won't lack for excitement. 

Nothing against Ohtani, but thank God we didn't sign him. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Yankees sign "Brendan Ryan with a lesser glove" to eliminate the need for rookie infielders

There is a psychological reason why humans regularly picture the apocalypse. By contemplating asteroids, earthquakes, volcanoes and tornadoes full of chainsaw-wielding sharks, being stuck in snow on the New York State Thruway just doesn't seem so bad. 

Which brings me to today's apocalyptic Yankee news...

The Empire has signed Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract.


Okay, for a moment, let's consider the worst-case scenario in Tampa. What if three weeks from now, Glyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada and Ronald Torreyes arrive in Tampa with gonads the size of weather balloons due to chronic re-tweaking, thereby scratching the 2018 Yankee infield youth movement. If that happens, we would turn to Espinosa - our first "Espy" since Alvaro Espinosa became one of Phil Rizzuto's faves during the dark ages - (Matt Nokes, Deion Sanders, Mel Hall) - between 1988 and 1991, part of the 14-Year Barfield Barf.

Espinosa is a 30-year-old, good-field, no-hit utility infielder who would handle 3B or 2B if everybody else Buckners his way back to Scranton. Last year, Espinosa bounced across three teams, hitting .173 with 6 home runs and four Ks per every 10 at bats. He's a switch-hitter, much in the way pitchers are switch-hitters. Since 2013, he's hit .207. (Note: By comparison, the light-hitting Alvaro Espinosa produced a career Ruthian average of .254.) 

Here's where things get scary. Don't be surprised if Espinosa isn't in the lineup on opening day. Much has been written about the looming Yankee front office strategy of holding back Torres and/or Andujar for the first six weeks, thereby robbing them of a year of leverage in future contract arbitration. Other teams do it. I suppose the Yankees might, as well. That could leave Espinosa and Jace Peterson - another veteran glove - to bat eighth and ninth through the month of April. 

Theoretically, the '18 Yankees won't need hits from the bottom of the lineup. If the big guys don't produce, we are toast. The last two won't save us. And there is a bright spot here: By acquiring Espinosa, it looks more as though Cashman won't sign some expensive free agent - (gulp, the Toddfather) - who will have to play, regardless of how the rookies do. Instead, Cash is combing the scrap heap, contemplating the apocalypse. Let it snow.

Monday, January 29, 2018

With February near, it's time for the Montefiore Yankee Injury Report

One thing about winter: Nobody gets hurt. Wait... that's not true. Nobody seems to get hurt. As you read this, some Yankee chucklehead may be Henry Cotto-ing his eardrum with a Q-tip, or Graig Nettles-ing his hand on the lawn mower. One week in MLB is a year of tweaked gonads and jimmied disc jelly, and when the Empire reports to Camp Tampa next month, it will be viewed as front-runner in the AL East, as long as exploding gas grills and discarded banana peels don't take them down. 

An old saw goes that young players are less injury prone, or at least they heal faster than the gray hairs who are dieting on Cycle 4 kibble. Looking at last year's hospital report, you wouldn't know it. Of current Yankee starters, only three - Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge escaped injury last year. The first two were previously viewed as breakable china, and Judge hit so raggedly in July-August that his mental health, if not his body, was called into question. (He also had shoulder surgery this winter, so... what's that about? Was he playing hurt?) After that, everybody else - young and old - went down at some point. Here's a list. Forgive me if I'm forgetting someone.

Tyler Austin broke his left foot in March, missed three months, returned and strained a hamstring. Basically, a Mulligan year, and he may never get a makeup as a Yankee.

Greg Bird bruised his ankle, played through it, sucked, nearly lost the season. Resurrected in September/October. But which half-season is he?

Didi Gregorius bruised his right shoulder in the Bud Selig World Cup, missed the first month, came back, was Iron Man. Moral: Screw Selig.

Starlin Castro strained a hammy in July, missed a month, came back, sucked, went back on the DL, then returned. His hamstrings are now in Miami.

In the minors, Uber-prospect Glyber Torres strained his non-throwing elbow and had TJ surgery, missing the last two months. Otherwise, he might have been called up to play 3B, and there would have been no Toddfather. (Who is still circling overhead, looking to land.)

At third, Chase Headley had a relatively injury-free season. He's gone to San Diego.


Aaron Hicks went out in June with right-side tightness, missed a month, came back, sucked, then went out in September with left oblique tightness. He's a lefty-righty switch-hurter. A recent photo shows him pumped up like a Barry Bonds blimp. Are bigger muscles less likely to strain? Hm-mm.

Clint Frazier went out in August with a left oblique strain, never returned. Missed a huge opportunity. We still don't know if Red Thunder will be traded. If so, that injury will have effectively ended his Yankee career. Sad.

Matt Holliday went out in June with a viral infection, came back in late July, sucked, then went out in August with left lumbar strain, returned, sucked. He's gone. Too bad. Seemed a stand-up guy. Get your flu shots, folks.
Jacoby Ellsbury went out in late May with a concussion, missed six weeks, wasn't the same until September streak. You can't blame a outfielder for crashing into a wall. He's no Bobby Abreu. 


Gary Sanchez, out in April with strained right bicep. Came back. A relative Iron Man behind the plate, but not one to block pitches in the dirt.


Luis Cessa out in August with ribcage injury, never returned.

CC Sabathia out in August with right knee inflammation, back in September. At his age, always in danger of throwing his last pitch.

Masashiro Tanaka out in August with right shoulder inflammation, back in September. Pitched his best in October.

Sonny Gray strained a lat in spring training with Oakland, missed a month. He had finished 2016 injured, too - a reason they were willing to deal him for two injured Yankee prospects. 

Adam Warren, right shoulder inflammation, missed a month.

Aroldis Chapman, left shoulder inflammation, missed three weeks, was never old self.

Dellin Betances went kablooey in September and couldn't throw strikes. Mental mechanics. God knows what to expect.

What are the takeaways? Nothing you don't already know: 

1. At any time, injuries can turn Alabama's Crimson Tide into the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. 

2. The most important Yankees in 2018 might be Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, our universal plug-in adapters. 

3. Even though he may seem like odd-man out, Clint Frazier could easily end up with 400 at bats... unless as you read this, Red Thunder is reaming his eardrum with a Q-tip. (I'm still getting over Henry Cotto.)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Existential question: Could the Yankees have been better off without trading for Giancarlo?

Somewhere out there, a zillion Bud Lite years from here, exists the alt-Yankiverse where Brian Cashman spurned the Miami Marlins' flea market offer of Giancarlo Stanton, vaulting us into 2018 on an entirely different trajectory. Instead of NYC, the game's premier slugger went to the Dodgers, and we stood pat with Starlin Castro and two prospects.

Frankly, it's hard to imagine the Yankees in any universe nixing the deal. But it created a roster imbalance that has yet to correct itself. And it's time to ask a stupid question:

Would we be better off if Cashman turned his back and walked away?

By acquiring Stanton, the Empire took on his $25 million per year contract - (minus a $3 mill teaser from the Marlins and the $10 mill owed Castro.) The result: It added $12 mill to our payroll, giving Cashman a mere $22 mill to spend between now and Oct. 1. Considering the call-ups and deadline trades, he has about $15 mill in his pocket.

Had we said nope to Giancarlo, we'd have $34 mill to spend - about $28 mill in mad money.

Think of it this way: We could sign Yu Darvish, Randall Cobb, or anybody we damn well want. Instead of Gio, we'd have Yu and Castro, who could play 2B or go in a trade.

I raise this because, as great as he is, Stanton represents the third bottle opener on our 2018 Swiss Army Knife. While a guy can never have too many bottle openers, the trow does feel heavy, no? When we acquired Stanton, it wasn't so clear that we'd be lashed to Jacoby Ellsbury and his $22 mill salary for the remaining three years of the Trump Administration. We have logjams that, to clear, might require explosives.

Here's the current OF/DH situation:

Judge/Stanton/Gardy/Hicks/Ellsbury... with Clint Frazier, the people's choice, stuck in Scranton or going in a trade. 

Without Stanton, Red Thunder is our fifth OF, and the 2018 Yankees get to unwrap one of the most hyped - ("legendary bat speed!") - prospects of this millennium. Now, he's odd man out, unless we can somehow unload Ellsbury - and to do so, we'll likely get murdered in a trade. 

Here's the current infield situation:

Bird/rookie/Didi/rookie... with Cashman turning over rocks for a cheap free agent, while the Toddfather circles overhead. (My greatest fear, FWIW.)

Without Stanton, Castro plays 2B (or maybe 3B), while Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade compete for the open spot. Or we trade Castro and go with rookies at 2B and 3B. (My preference, FWIW.)

Here's the current rotation situation:

Tanaka, Sevvy, CC, Sonny, Monty... and whomever steps forward from a handful of promising young arms. Not bad, really.

But but BUT... without Stanton, we add Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Randall Cobb or Lance Lynn, without breaking a luxury tax sweat. 

No Stanton, but a Darvish. 

No Murderer's Row, but a six-man rotation. 

No Stanton/Judge twin towers, but Red Thunder with 250 at bats and Ellsbury looming as less dead weight.

Listen: There are devils in the details here. Without the Stanton trade, we lose more prospects in the December Rule 5 draft, and maybe we don't send Chase Headley to San Diego for scrap lumber. Let me restate that... under no circumstances could Cashman have refused the deal; it was - as the Don would say - "an offer you can't refuse."

But as it stands, the deal looks like less of a slam dunk than immediately advertised. We have a Swiss Army Knife with three bottle openers, and for now, we're drinking from cans. 

Holy #rummysnowflakes! I'm in Politco

I am a human wad of gum on the boot heel of Donald Rumsfeld.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Yankees should take A-Rod's comments to heart

The winds are calm, the sky unchanging, and in every direction, we see an endless horizon of sand. This is it: the annual late-January Yankee news desert. The wires are empty with mindless chatter about the Super Bowl and SI swimsuit edition. That nothing is happening Yankeewise is the best that can happen soulwise, because it means Cooperstown Cashman hasn't signed a Todd or traded a Red Thunder. We should take two Ambien and wake up April 1 with everybody intact, but it doesn't work that way. Tick tock...Tick tock. 

Yesterday, in his emerging role as ESPN carny barker, Alex Rodriguez made some succinct and potentially disturbing observations about the 2018 Yankees.

He was talking about the "ramifications" of Giancarlo Stanton joining the team, beyond the hoped-for 50 home runs. A-Rod was describing a NYC media with box-cutters instead of pencils, divisional foes bent on destroying us, and a fan base that expects a 162-0 season. In his constant wailing about "fake news," Donald Trump would do well to ponder A-Rod's simple assessment that great power always brings great scrutiny, and scrutiny always finds a negative. It's not fake news. It's the ways of human history. The 2018 Yankees will play in a media fishbowl, and if they are ever found floating belly-up - even if just for a weekend in May - there will be bloody hell to pay. On the acquisition of Stanton, A-Rod tells the Daily News:

"What does it do to the DH spot? How does that affect Gary Sanchez? It’s like an architect. There’s a lot of moving parts. You can’t put six garages on a 4,000-square-foot house, or eight garages. So it will be very interesting to watch, because what they had last year was so special. As a Yankee fan, you obviously hope it elevates their game.”

Yeah. That certainly is the hope. Because otherwise, the weather will turn nasty. And A-Rod knows nasty. Since coming to Gotham in 2004, he's bathed in Klieg-lit publicity 24-7, with most of it self-induced. If the Yankees didn't generate enough media heat, there were his flings with Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz, that pro wrestling vixen, the software billionaire, and now the ultimate clickbait, J-Lo. (Historians will marvel that he never dipped his toe in a Kardashian sump pond.) Add a steroids scandal and the occasional stupid quote - "To be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using."and the man has sold more fish wrap than Arthur Treacher.  

Today, there is a distinct possibility that Gioncarlo or Aaron Judge will inherit the role of A-Rod as the Yahweh of Broadway - the Page 6 celebrity who sits atop the towering shit-pile of gossip, trying to keep it from toppling. How will they react when every girl they dated in high school starts telling tales? What will they do when the Gammonites ask nasty questions, while they're still wearing a golden sombrero? Do they understand that the universe has shifted? A-Rod does. 

Last year, we joyfully watched the Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM) collapse under its own hubris, while our lovable overachievers nearly slipped into the World Series. This year, the boulder is on us. CC Sabathia says it's nice to be the Evil Empire once again, and yes, it's fun to enter February with high hopes. But the Yankees should read A-Rod's comments with trepidation, and if there is a takeaway, it should be that the 2018 Yankees need a few young, overachieving rookies in the lineup - not a few ex-stars on the way down. We don't need more expectations. We already have enough, thank you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go shovel sand out of the driveway.

Friday, January 26, 2018

It's happening: The free market explosions have begun

At some point in the next 24 hours, some bigly name - maybe JD Martinez, maybe IP Freely, maybe Oliver Closeoff - will sign with a bigly team - maybe Bahstahn - tearing open the fault lines deep below our happy, docile, hot stove winter. Sirens will blare. Your cell phone will scream. In fact, it may already be happening.

Last night, Lorenzo Cain signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Brewers - yeah, the Brewers - who then emptied out their farm system for the last coveted Marlin: outfielder Christian Yelich. 

And thus, another team we desperately hoped might absorb half of Jacoby Ellsbury's contract has vanished from the fantasy board. (Actually, the Brewers were never a candidate, because the Chief surely would nix a trade to 'Waukee.") Right now, for any team to take Ellsbury, it's going to require an outfield collision or #MeToo scandal that includes clubhouse video. Ells is going to play for the Yankees, and we might as well make the best of it.

Whenever cheapo owners in the AL or NL Central abruptly decide to ramp up for a pennant chase, it's like the Crown Prince of West Tunisia welcoming the country's first McDonalds. You think, Hey, enjoy the Happy Meals, big guy, but don't say we didn't warn you. Cain and Yelich are merely two stars the Yankees didn't need and won't have to face on any regular basis. Stick them in the Central - doesn't matter which league - and they might as well play in Japan. In fact, it's nice to see Milwaukee making a run of it, rather play dead for the Cubs and Cards. 

What will happen soon - maybe today - will challenge our "winning of the winter." Boston will sign somebody - probably Martinez - and the Rays will trade Chris Archer for a pile of prospects, who always do well, because there's no pressure playing in front of 200 fans. It's possible that Baltimore - where Buck Showalter currently sits in a closed garage with two cars running and a loaded Luger in his mouth - will put Manny Machado on the block, tossing a grenade into the gas well of spring training. Or Toronto might do it with Josh Donaldson. Hell is waiting to break loose.

Listen: We've sat here - fat, drunk and stupid for the last five weeks, since the Marlins gave us Giancarlo at an outlet store price. Only Boston and Tampa stand in our way to the Division, and the Rays would need a mini-miracle. It's basically Boston, and soon we'll know their counter move.

If - or when - they sign Martinez, that will put Hanley Ramirez in limbo, where I think he owns a condo. They'll probably shop him everywhere, for whatever they can get. They'll have Chris Sales and Mookie Betts, and if David Price ever gets his act together, they'll have a formidable rotation. It's going to happen soon. The earthquakes are coming. Tape the windows. Buy canned food. Head for high ground. The siren will be flashing. This will not be a test.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Skating on Cooperstown: The Class of 2018 never really hurt us

Yesterday, the annual opportunity for the nation's Gammonites to pretend they are the Hollywood Foreign Press Association resulted in four new Lifetime Golden Globes Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. As far as I'm concerned, none of them ever drew blood on a Yankee team that wasn't already dead.

As long as it's not Edgar Martinez - whose mere presence in an on-deck circle still haunts me - or that self-righteous blob of jellied morality who bilked the good people of New Hampshire out of their tax money - let's call the Cooperstown Class of 2018 what it is: 

A big, fluffy, floating, harmless, anti-Yankee hair ball.

For your consideration...

Chipper Jones twice faced us in the World Series with Atlanta, and each was as pleasurable as a barefoot romp through a field of nipples. In 1996, we roared back on the bat of Jim Leyritz to launch the great Yankee Teams of Torre. Chipper went 6-21 (.286) with no homers and three RBIs. Three years later, his Braves returned to seek revenge. They lasted four games. Chipper went 3-13. 

I'm not saying he wasn't a great player and is undeserving of the Hall. Over his career, Jones went 35-103 against the Yankees (.340) in the regular season. I just can't remember one game that mattered. When I hear the word "Chipper," I think of the dismemberment scene in the movie "Fargo." 

Trevor Hoffman's induction greases next summer's path for Mariano, in his first eligible year. (If it's not unanimous, Trump will order a Justice Dept. probe.) A great closer - no doubt, but I smile remembering the 1998 World Series, in which the San Diego saver recorded not one save. In fact, his lone appearance in game three resulted in two runs and a loss. Nothing but fond memories.

Vladimir Guererro did hurt us once - the 2005 ALCS, with the Angels, when he went 6-18 with a few dunk singles. Still, he doesn't stand out from that horrible, wretched debacle - (Juan Rivera and Bengie Molina, ugh) - which came during the Great Dark Age following The Curse. Vladimir faced us twice more - the 2009 Angels, who we beat - and 2010 Rangers, which did us in. But he wasn't a force in that series, hitting .269. In his post-season career against the Yankees, just one home run.

When you study Hall of Fame resumes, you can conjure some serious Yankee killer demons of the night. Vlad the Impaler isn't one of them.

Finally Jim Thome. He faced us four times in the post-season, his teams going 1-3. In the 1997 Divisional Series - when his Indians beat us - he hit a measly .200. A year later, he blasted 4 HRs in the ALCS, but we won, so who cares? In his two final incarnations - with Minnesota (2010) and Baltimore (2011) - Thome was a memory of his former self. Combined, he went 2 for 22. 

Over his regular season career, he hit 26 HRs against us, batting .251. But you know what? He hit 35 against Boston and batted .271.

Finally, none of the steroid untouchables - Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, et al - won induction. I've made my opinion clear about what I consider extreme, hypocritical Gammonitic piousness. But as long as the Great Steroid Wall remains in effect, that means no plaque for Big Papi, right? RIGHT? 

So be it. If that's the rule, I'll take it. 


This just in from Brian Stelter's CNN media newsletter:

Just announced: The NY Daily News is putting up a pay wall on Feb. 1... Readers will have access to 10 free articles a month before the wall goes up... (NYDN)
Who in their right mind would pay this? Will the limit apply to photos? Is this the end of Duque's Tabloid Covers Race?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The existential, Faustian dilemma of prospects lists

Over the last few days, a tsunami of prospects lists has washed over baseball like low-cut black dresses at the Golden Globes. There are Top 100 lists, Top 10 By Position lists, Team Top 20 lists, and metadata lists, which listlessly list all listed lists. And they name the same no-name names - former top draft picks, big bonus Latinos, and new no-name names who "broke out" in 2017. 

This year, the Yankees are the Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri of the prospects lists. We placed six on Baseball America's Top 100 - the gold standard - which last year rated Aaron Judge as the 90th - yes, ninetieth - best prospect in the game, while putting Babe Benintendi and Yoan Moncada at the top. (Five years ago, the top three were Jurickson Profar, Dylan Bundy and Oscar Taveras.)

Okay, so let's all agree these lists are a crapola parlor game, something planted in this January Death Month to spike our interest. (But, hey, you want another post ragging about Ellsbury's contract?)

This year's Yankee Big Six are Glyber Torres (6 on Baseball America), Estevan Florial (38), Justus Sheffield (41), Miguel Andujar (59), Albert Abreu (77), and Chance Adams (81). Beyond them are a few familiar names: Jorge Mateo, now of Oakland via Sonny Gray (64), Jorge Guzman, now of Miami via Giancarlo (87) and Dustin Fowler, also of Oakland, via Sonny (88). If you consider that Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade had too many ABs to retain "prospect" status, we could have conceivably placed 11 on this year's list... making us clearly the top farm system in Baseball America Top 100 history. That and a donut would have gotten us a dime.

But since this is a parlor game, let's ask an existential question:

What if the Yanks last July had stood pat - not traded for Sonny or the White Sox package of D-Rob, Kahnle and Toddfather. Would we now be better off?

Let's start with a simple observation: Without the White Sox package, we might not have made it to Game 7 of the ALCS. The Yankees wouldn't be riding on the good will of last year's plucky over-achievers, so the front office would be hungrier and angrier, and fewer fans would have argued against Joe Girardi's firing. 

We'd still have Mateo, Fowler, James Kaprielian, Ian Clarkin, Blake Rutherford, and Tito Polo, legitimate prospects,( though both Kaprielian and Rutherford fell off the BA Top 100 this year.)

If we were trading those prospects now, we probably would have "won" the Geritt Cole Sweepstakes from Pittsburgh. (But no Sonny Gray.) We'd have $13 million more to spend - by eliminating D-Rob's salary - which would put us in the market for Yu Darvish or a top starter. (But no D-Rob.) We would have needed to make these deals before December's Rule 5 draft, where we would surely suffered heavier losses than we did. 

Would we better off? If we had Mateo, he'd be going to spring training as a long shot candidate to play 2B. Clarkin would pitch at Double A. Rutherford would still be in Single A, Kaprielian won't pitch until summer, and Fowler is suing Chicago for his messed-up knee. (It's a testimonial to how great a prospect he is/was that he still made the 100.) 

Generally, I believe teams who trade prospects get more for their buck in winter. There is nothing worse than trying to fill a hole at the trade deadline, when contending teams are held for ransom. (And next July 31 could be a horror show - Machado, Donaldson, even Bryce Harper could all be on the block.) 

Still, it's hard to fault the deals of last July. Crapola or not, the prospect rankings show a Yankee farm system so deep that prospects simply must be traded. Crazy, eh? Still, the fear remains: Doug Drabek, Fred McGriff, Jay Buhner, et al. Will the Yankees play their prospects or revert to the ways of viewing them as trade chips? Thus far, Brian Cashman seems to get it. We are winning the parlor games of winter.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

For your consideration: The IT IS HIGH All-Yankee 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot

Players, year of eligibility, last year's % of vote
First, let's note that without Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Willie Randolph and Bernie Williams, the national Baseball Hall of Fame is a sick joke perpetrated by the lie that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in some cow pasture near Cooperstown, which is like saying Paris Hilton invented herpes.

Seriously. That Roger Maris remains unrecognized by the Hall - the greatest single season home run hitter in history whose head didn't grow the size of a beach ball - is an indictment of all other great but short-lived careers, most notably Saint Sandy of LA. That Thurman and Willie go overlooked are simple cases of anti-Yankee bias among the Gammonites. And, as for Bernie, apparently, those four championships - a feat we won't see again in our lifetimes - won themselves. 

Playing in NYC has its perks - both financial and reproductive - but getting voted into the Hall of Fame is not one. Kirby Pucket goes in after 12 years, everybody feeling bad because an eye injury ended his career. Then he becomes a groping, one-man #MeToo inspiration. But Bernie plays 16 seasons, holds down CF, bats third for great teams, becomes a renowned guitarist - yet players from Nowhere, Minnesota, deserve extra recognition, right?
So... my votes:

Rocket Roger Clemens. You know what? I'd vote for this guy just to piss off Redsock fans, because last time I heard, he was never going to wear another Boston cap due to the horrible way his wife was treated at Fenway. Yeah, there's the steroids thing, but if you want to start applying morality to Cooperstown - well, how about Babe Ruth (drunk), Cap Anson (racist), Orlando Cepeda (pot smuggler), Gaylord Perry (spitball cheater) Rogers Hornsby (gambler), Duke Snider (tax cheat), Maury Wills (coke fiend), Wade Boggs (sex addict), Ted Williams (womanizer), Ty Cobb (evil incarnate) and many, many more. Yeah, Rocket did steroids. He also did USO tours for the troops in the Persian Gulf and once inspired Suzyn Waldman to near blow out her vocal chords. Someday, a new generation of writers will vote him into the Hall. Does he have to die first? 

Mike Mussina. In his final year, 2008, Moose broke the jinx and won 20 - the lone source of pride on a godforsaken Yankee team. (Remember how our playoffs hopes ended? Joggy Cano watched a ground ball roll into right field without even diving.) Let's not kid ourselves: Mussina would go in wearing an O's cap - 10 years in Baltimore vs 8 with us. And, damn, if only Carl Everett hadn't blooped a single into left center - on a 1-2 count no less - Moose would have thrown a perfect game, and I think his plaque would be assured. (Fun fact: The losing pitcher for Boston that night was David Cone, who also belongs in the Hall!)

Gary Sheffield. No relation to Justus. He actually hurt us in the 2003 World Series against Florida. But I like Shef because he once took a punch from a fan in Boston, while chasing a foul, and damn he was pissed. Great hitter, too. Remember "the team of a thousand runs?" "Murderer's Row, and then Cano?" Unfortunately, neither team won it. (Again, see: REASONS BERNIE BELONGS IN COOPERSTOWN.)

Johnny Damon. He'd probably go in wearing a Royals cap - six seasons in KC, four in both Boston and New York - and his grand slam against Javier Vanquished Vazquez effectively ended the Curse of the Bambino. But the guy once stole two bases on one pitch, and in the end, when Boston tried to acquire him for a stretch drive, he said no, still feeling betrayed. He loved being a Yankee. 

Hideki Matsui. Come on, folks, a great Yankee. In game six of the 2009 World Series, he went 3-4 with a HR, a two-run double and a 2-run single. But I still think of his critical double in the eighth inning of the 2003 Aaron Boone game - Boston left Pedro in, even though lefty Alan Embree was ready - which rallied us from a 5-2 deficit. Said to have great porn collection, too!

It's possible - no, PROBABLE - that no Yankee will be selected this year. Moose is probably our best bet, and the tide hasn't turned on Clemens. But to all those Boston fans who scream about the Rocket's drug-tainted records, lets look forward to hearing them rationalize Big Papi's enshrinement, when his drug-tainted record becomes eligible. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

2017 v 2018

Behold: An empirical, scientific and indisputable comparison of this upcoming year to 2017. 

Today, the state of the Yankees is strong, dilly dilly!

Sonny Gray above Michael Pineda
David Robertson far above Tyler Clippard
Tommy Kahnle far above Chase Shreve
Chad Green far above Holder, Heller, whoever
Healthy Greg Bird far above the injured Bird/Chris Carter
Giancarlo Stanton far, far above Matt Holliday
More mature (age 25) Gary Sanchez (defensively) above Sanchez

23-year-old Clint Frazier above 22-yr-old Frazier

Gleyber Torres below Starlin Castro (but not on defense)
Miguel Andujar below Chase Headley/Todd Frazier (on defense)
34-year-old Brett Gardner slightly below 33-year-old Gardner
37-yr-old CC Sabathia below 36-yr-old CC


Dellin Betances
Aroldis Chapman
Jordan Montgomery
Didi Gregorius

Aaron Judge
The upper tier of the farm system: Justus Sheffield, Jake Cave, Billy McKinney, et al.

Seven upgrades, four downgrades, six wild cards. If Torres and Andujar come of age, who knows? If anybody from the farm wild cards arrives, it's a huge boost. If the five other wild cards recreate last year, we win the Division by 10 games.
Right now, only injuries can derail us. 

Right now, anyway. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mariners touting prospects stolen illegally from Yankees

A website delving into Seattle's farm system has identified Nick Rumbelow and Mike Ford - two players coaxed from the Yankees as a result of the recent Rule 5 draft - as prospects to watch in 2018.

Technically, Rumbelow was acquired in a trade, but the deal was made entirely because the Yankees couldn't protect him in the winter draft. Ford was selected in the draft, which all competent Yankee scholars view as an illegal seizure of private assets, unconstitutional under any credible system aside from Major League Baseball.

Fortunately, Ford would be returned to the Yankees, if he doesn't spend the entire year on Seattle's 25-man roster. Hopefully, this kind of hostage-taking will be punished on the diamond. 

Possible government shutdown impacts on the Yankees

1. EPA delays investigation into toxic chemicals leaching from Randy Levine's hair.

2. Without warnings from U.S. government, colorful packaging fools gullible Yankee rookies into taking the Tide Pod Challenge.

3. While on joyous family vacation, Greg Bird twists ankle on pile of uncollected trash and falls 500 feet into Grand Canyon.

4. Oh, screw this. Hardee-har-har. I got nothing. It's cold, I need a flu shot, and the NFL won't start its playoffs today at the traditional 1 p.m. East Coast slot. They're waiting it until for 3:05 p.m. (Boston) and 6:40 p.m. (Phily), looking to dominate prime time, which means home town fans in both cities will sit in the dark, bitter cold. Eagles fans will be lucky to get home by midnight. On top of everything else that's odious about the NFL, does the league simply hate the cities it represents?  

Some links...

It took a Boston sportswriter to finally tell the world what everybody already knew: The Yankees are not serious bidders for Yu Darvish. Cooperstown Cashman generated two weeks of speculative news blather by mentioning his name on a call-in show.

The Yankees - like everybody else - are supposedly "interested" in the latest thing from Cuba, a 21-year-old OF. I'd write down his name, but why bother? Of course the Yankees are "interested." But has anybody out there noticed how skeptical the Empire has become about "big things" from Cuba? Ever since Jose Contreras - the Bronze Titan - the franchise clutches its checkbook whenever a fresh boat arrives in Miami. (Yeah, we have El Chapo, but that's different: We didn't chase him when he first came.) 

It's so quiet today that NJ sportswriters are interviewing themselves. Mirrors reflecting mirrors while feedback loops rise in volume. It's pretty clear that Brian Cashman's prime directive is to find a taker for Jacoby Ellsbury - and if that hasn't happened by now, it won't until spring training. So... I guess the government isn't the only thing being shut down. The Yankiverse is almost there, as well. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tanking has a new name: "The risk-averse, performative rebuild."

Tanking: It's how GMs keep their jobs. It's so clean, so ruthless, so maniacally foolproof. Trade the old guy for a bunch of youngsters. Even if they all fizzle, you've bought yourself three to five years of work, while the verdict clarifies.

"The risk-averse, performative rebuild is increasingly no longer just a plea for patience to see a sound long-term plan through; it’s a vehicle for job security and for the public to defer judgment."

Kiley McDaniel, a former Yankee scout turned writer, has published a long piece on the age-old debate between stats and scouts. It's totally "insider baseball," so much that you'd probably find a well-worn printout in every restroom stall at Yankee headquarters. 

He says one reason for the current slow free agent market could be that every team relies on virtually the same, overbearing avalanche of analytics - and the suits are paralyzed by an endless, all-you-can-eat buffet of spreadsheets. It's a long read, but interesting, if you have no life. The nut of it: The successful front office must use both stats and scouts - (which is sort of obvious, eh?) and a key to success is identifying and keeping the good scouts, because a lot of the clipboard-wielding bastards are musky hound dogs, neck-deep in their own crapola. 

I believe that I speak for the entire Yankiverse when I say there is no excuse - absolutely none - for the Evil Empire to ever be outspent on scouting, organization, or the development of young players. That means soap in the showers, and I'm talking Irish Spring, not some generic brand of spiced lard.

The farm system/scouting is one area where the cheap, slimy owners have yet to impose caps on spending. And for years, the Yankees seemed to pull their first round draft picks out of a punch bowl: (Brackman, Bleich, Culver, Heathcott, Bichette, yeesh, shoot me!) In the last five, they've taken Ty Hensley (a bust due to injuries), Aaron Judge (I'll call that a win), Ian Clarkin (now traded, still viable), James Kaprielian (same), Kyle Holder (interesting glove, still viable) and Blake Rutherford (traded for D-Rob, Toddfather, Kahnle.) Judge, alone, makes it a success. (This year we took a pitcher still recovering from Tommy John surgery, so good luck on rating him a boom or bust.) 

When your team is winning, it's amazing how competent the front office looks. Five years ago, Houston was a joke. Now, they're the gold standard. Same with the Yankees. Before the 2016 sell-off, we were mired in quicksand, doomed to forever chase the one-game Wild Card. Now, the farm system seems to be brimming with talent, though you have to wonder how much of that is Yankee hype. 

Cooperstown Cashman must thread the needle here - win the Division this year without gutting the farms, because there will be no shortage of GMs looking to enact "the risk-averse performance rebuild." For me - and this is just the opinion of a sadly obsessed fan sitting under a foot of snow in Syracuse, NY - everything revolves around the fate of two prospects - Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar. Frazier is the guy who - truth be told - hasn't put up great minor league numbers; he supposedly has "legendary bat speed," the verdict of scouts. Andujar is coming off a great year in Scranton; the numbers suggest he's ready. So will they stay Yankees? Scouts or stats? Or both? The future of the Yankees falls somewhere in between. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Getting excited to see who the refs will pick for the Super Bowl

Someone once said the fans don't pay good money to watch refs throw flags. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today's NFL has become "the Golden Age of Zebras," launching the greatest dynasty in the history of the game: The home-town, home-cookin' refs. This weekend, flags will be flyin', and I can't wait!

(NOTE: This remains a Yankee blog. But the only NY Times story thus far in 2018 concerns "safety nets" - not the bullpen safety net of Chad Green and David Robertson, but actual safety nets, as in metal and twine. Until something happens, or the Times awakens, we must spread our filth upon other deserving subjects.)

I'm expecting some classic game-winning calls, such as:

1. The big run negated by "holding." Now and then, in the pass-happy NFL, something amazing happens: A runner breaks loose for 30 or 40 yards, sometimes a touchdown. It's a back-breaker for the defense, until some 400-pound offensive lineman is flagged for "holding." Instead of the big run, the offense is penalized 10-yards, and it's a back-breaker for the team that just scored. Incredible! 

The best part comes on the video replay. The "color" announcer always spots the transgression and says, "Yep, that's a good call!" even when you see nothing... nothing! The beauty here is that on practically every play, somebody holds somebody else. They just get away with it, or the run gets stuffed, so the refs have no cause to throw a flag. When it's a big run, they step in and call everything back. It never ceases to delight the fans! Go, refs!

2. The game-ending "pass interference" call. Long ago, a great offensive strategy emerged for last-ditch scoring opportunities: The QB simply flings the ball into the end zone and hopes for pass interference. Forget catching the ball. Try to catch the flag. If the game is close, sometimes, the refs actually get to decide who wins and loses. For a fan, there is nothing more rewarding!

The beauty here is that the call can go either way. Sometimes, the ref won't throw a flag, even though a defender has almost sexually molested the wide receiver. The announcers will say, "The refs are letting them play, and that's how it should be!" On the next play, to even things out, the refs will flag an invisible bump, and the network voices will sing out, "Yes, that's definitely pass interference!" 

The greatest pass interference calls - "P.I." for short - put the ball on the one-yard line, giving one team an easy field goal to win the game. Thus, an epic, bare-knuckled, four-hour battle is decided by one flag. Football doesn't get any better!

3. The ten-minute "Rodney King" instant replay review. Several times a game, the refs will halt everything and send a matter to "New York," where presumably teams of lawyers argue before an NFL Supreme Court. (Is the U.S. Supreme Court in on this?) This is especially rewarding for fans sitting in zero-degree weather, because it reminds them of their status as sideline props.

The best instant replays defy what everyone just saw - like the 1991 Rodney King police brutality video, played ceaselessly at various speeds until a jury cannot see the parking lot for the asphalt. At that point, the announcers say, "See? There's no question about it: He didn't have possession of the ball at the precise moment when it hit the ground; this will be overturned!" But then... get this: It might NOT be overturned! New York is gonna do whatever New York is gonna do, and God only knows what drugs the judges are doing. 

The best moment: After they overturn a play, the refs require another 10-minute video delay to determine the new line of scrimmage. At home, I'm cheering at the top of my lungs! Greatest moments in reffing... coming this weekend! Let's all be there!

One last thing: We know which side will win. The New England Patriots, of course, always get the calls. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The other side of Cano

When he's not jogging out grounders, Robbie Cano maybe isn't such a bad guy? 

But let's be clear: He is not forgiven. Oh. No.

He loves only gold.

Only gold.

(Hat tip to our man in Seattle, Buhner's Ghost.)

"What (has) emerged (is) a game asking itself questions far more important than whether collusion exists: Is the foundation of the sport, a structure in place since the advent of free agency in the 1970s, still viable? Or is baseball’s economic system, its underpinning, broken?"

Yesterday, Yahoo Sports posted a lengthy thumbsucker on baseball's frozen free agent market, even conjuring the dreaded "C-word," (not that C-word, you perverts: "Collusion!") And if you want to punt right now - there's nothing here about Greg Bird's chances to hit 30 HRs - I don't blame you. Nobody buys a Super Bowl ticket to watch the refs throw flags, and nobody follows baseball for its great moments in economic theory. (Though they say Brian Cashman is bound for Cooperstown, don't they?) Still, money-flow, even more than relief pitching, will decide if the Yankees remain baseball's most storied franchise or someday become a pinstriped version of the KC Royals. 

Something's up. Some takeaways from Yahoo:

1. The free agent market is weirdly frozen. Barely a month before camps open, only 13 position players have signed, and some big names linger out there.

2. The owners blame agent Scott Boras, who has a history of brinkmanship. He reps the remaining Big Four: Eric Hosmer, JD Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas - and it's the biggest group he's ever taken this deep into January.

3. Boras, in response, has a great quote: "I wouldn't blame the baker for the flour not showing up." This guy can write for us, if he ever wants to make real money.

4. Nobody claims players are underpaid, though they're not getting longer term offers. (And fans who see the Jacoby Ellsburys, David Prices, Joggy Canos, et al  certainly know why, eh?)

5. But player contracts don't reflect the ungodly sums being banked by the owners. In the last five years, franchise values have exploded from $18.1 billion to $46.1 billion. Let that sink in. The value of MLB franchises has nearly tripled in the last five years. No other way to put it: Robber barons.

6. Despite bathing in money, for the owners, "contending" is now an option. They have found that, by shrinking payroll and "tanking," they'll win eventually and the fans will show up. The owners don't need to win anymore.

7. The media is complicit with the owners' side. Including us. We scream about Ellsbury, as Redsock fans do about Price, (and Rusney Castillo, and Hanley Ramirez, and the Panda, and Rick Porcello - yeesh, do they ever stop?) - but nobody whines when Shohei Ohtani - the greatest prospect in modern times - is forced to sign for pennies on the dollar, due to rules that negate free-market capitalism.

8. Another big lie is that owners are saving for next year's free agent class of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, etc. The Yankee and Dodgers, yeah. The rest of baseball, ridiculous. The Padres won't touch a $30-$40 million auction. Bryce Machado is not the reason why owners are waiting this winter. 

9. If they can beat the payroll threshold, the Yankees and Dodgers' tax savings next year are being vastly overstated. If the Dodgers get under the tax cap this winter, then next year splurge payroll up to $246 million, they'll save only about $12 million - spare change for a team with more than $500 million annual revenues. The Yankees and Dodgers make so much money, none of this austerity crapola holds water.

10. The killer quote: "There’s less interest in winning than I’ve ever witnessed before,” one union official said. “MLB has done a fantastic job of convincing the public that’s OK. I think fan bases are accepting of losing now. Sometimes they even want their team to lose.”

Think about that. Because it's true. In mid-2016, when the Yankees traded Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and El Chapo, who wasn't rooting for a complete tear-down? I remember being angry that they kept Brian McCann (until they traded him over the following winter.)

I don't know how to fix this. What's clear in the article is that nobody else does, either. And I suppose that if fans are happy, the owners are rich beyond imagination, and the players get four-star chefs in the clubhouse, there is no problem, right? Everything is fine, right?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lube job

The Houston team's owner, Jim "Jim" Cole thinks they "beat" The Yankees by acquiring Gerrit Cole.

“Any time we can beat the Yankees, that’s good,’’ Crane said after a press conference to introduce Cole at Minute Maid Park."

Maybe. Maybe not. Pitchers and catchers report on February 13. See you on the field, chump.

With their leftover change, will the Yankees snag another Chris Carter?

Gather 'round chiltlins, and I'll tell you the story of Chris Carter, the incredible Ghost of Yankees Recent Past...

It began in mid-February, as pitchers and catchers were returning to Tampa. The king's top sorcerer, Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman, reached into his magical fanny pack, conjured $3.5 million in gold Bitcoin, and signed the then-reigning National League home run king, Chris Carter, to a one-year blood covenant. The Gammonites rejoiced. "Brilliant," they marveled. "The wizard doth done it again!"

And how could it hurt? Carter was only 30, and in the previous season, he'd hit 41 dingers. What kingdom couldn't use 41 dingers? Nevertheless, a group of bitter, pock-faced, nay-saying bloggers criticized the deal. They said signing Carter meant the Yankees would play him at the expense of newborn rookies - and they harped upon his .222 batting average and league-leading 206 strikeouts, which altered his profile like a giant forehead tumor.

Almost immediately, Cashman's move proved genius. As if they were cursed, Tyler Austin broke his ankle, Greg Bird suffered a mystery foot disease, and the Yankees found themselves pondering Gi-Man Choi. The ailments paved the way for Carter to take over first base, where he showed the world what a veteran can do and silenced all his critics, forever. Carter became a Yankee hero, Cashman went straight to Cooperstown, and both sides lived happily ever after, world without end, amen...

Yeah. That would make a great bedtime story, eh? 

One glitch. As we all know, Carter batted .201, fanned every third at bat, and hit as many double play balls (5) as doubles. For the record, let's note that Carter never griped about playing time or blamed anybody else, a solid clubhouse presence. He just didn't hit. And we wasted half a season, watching it play out. Today, Carter is a free agent, looking for another hookup. 

These days, as we nay-sayers await Cashman's next foray, maybe it's time to remember Chris Carter. Everyone expects Cash to soon acquire a veteran infielder - someone to play 2B and/or 3B - another player heading to the pasture, another Chris Carter. And here's the reality of veterans: Once you sign them, all spring training competition ends. 

Whether it's Brian Roberts, Stephen Drew, Kevin Youkilis or Dopey Dildox, once you bring in the veteran, he takes the job. You can have some of the top prospects in the game - and the Yankees have two, in Glyber Torres and Miguel Andujar - but it doesn't matter. The veteran shows up, the veteran plays. 

Lately, we've heard talk of Cashman trading for Josh Harrison of the Pirates, (though it seems Pittsburgh has two sets of negotiation rules: one for the Yankees and one for other teams), and I cannot bash deals that haven't been made. (The devil is always in the details.) But let's be honest here:

If the Yankees drop $4-$6 million on a veteran 3B, it won't matter if Andujar hits .500 in Tampa. In fact, it'll be easier on everybody if he doesn't. Either way, he'll return to Scranton, where he hit .300 last year, disillusioned, depressed and probably on the trading block. And when he goes 1-29 to start the Triple A season, the Yankees will say, "See? We're vindicated!" Just as they did last April with Chris Carter. 

Listen: The Yankees stand at an organizational crossroads. They will either be the team of rising young players, or revert back to being the team of former all-stars. Do we have faith in our rookies, or do we punt on them before winter is even over? Last year, we showed faith. Was it the new way, or just a false moon? The story is still to be written.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Arts & Culture!

The Grandyman has signed with Toronto, raising an existential question

First, let's note that Curtis Granderson remains one of the great people in Major League Baseball - fine player, loyal teammate, and a sterling presence in any town lucky enough to have him. Someday, he might serve in Congress and be a dramatic improvement over the gaggle of craven, deer-tick brained, human barrel-of-grease troglodytes currently occupying cockroach-space in DC. At age 35, the Grandyman has nixed retirement, and he's suiting up for one last march on Timbuktu, back in the AL East. Welcome home, sir...

Last year, between the Mets and Dodgers, Granderson whacked 26 HRs and hit .212 - Todd-father numbers, Chris Carter numbers, common stats in this era of the Three True Outcomes. Long ago, Grandy became a homer/strikeout dice roll, negating his speed and - I believe - limiting his career. Then again, he's still around, so whadda I know, eh?

Grandy is expected to team with the regenerative 35-year-old Steve Pearce and CF Kevin Pillar. Unless a secret cavalry rides up from Triple A, I can't imagine a more depressing outfield, east of the imploding Pirates. Seriously, come July 30, who doesn't expect the Jays to be shopping Josh Donaldson like the last dose of Viagra at a Shriner's Convention? Likewise, the O's will almost surely be dangling Manny Machado from a bamboo fishing pole - two neutron bombs going off in the pennant race. (Let's hope that by June, Miguel Andujar has claimed 3B for the next Yankee decade; otherwise, we could end up emptying our system - Andujar included - for a three-month rental.) That Toronto already looks to be on life-support carries serious Yankee implications.

When you think about the 2018 Yankees fielding baseball's two premier HR hitters, you want to look back through history for comparable pairs. There's  Ruth/Gehrig, Mantle/Maris, Mays/McCovey, Canseco/McGwire, Aaron/Mathews and - yes - Manny Ramirez and Big Papi. (I'd add Killebrew/Allison.) They all won championships, which increases our optimism. But go back just a few years, and another twosome pops up: Bautista/Escobar  (Encarnacion, as per correction in comments.)

Toronto went three seasons with two top sluggers, back to back and belly to belly, but no World Championship flag adorns the Rogers Centre. We can tout the 2018 Yankees as sure bets for the post-season, but from that point on, it's pitching, pitching, pitching... and let's never kid ourselves: Homer happy lineups often get shut down in October. 

Ah, but that's for later. Today, let's welcome Granderson back to the division, playing against us in at least 15 games. Three things I've learned about ex-Yankees returning home:

a) They always fondly recall their time in Gotham.

b) The fans always greet them warmly.

c) They always beat us in one game. 

Bank on it: Grandyman will blast a big home run, effectively swiping a game from us. We will tear out what's left of our hair, but the juju gods won't care: It simply has to happen.

And so here is my existential question for today: 

When the Grandyman hits it, will The Master sing?